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Blog

Susan Marek's blog about angels, chakras, spiritual living, and more.

Filtering by Category: "church"

The Pieta of Saint-Sulpice

Susan Marek

Saint-Sulpice stands at the corner of two small rues in Paris, not far from the Seine.  Her towering exterior, although lovely, pales in comparison to the mysteries and beauty inside.  There are gorgeous sculptures, paintings and stained glass wherever you look.  There is even a copy of the shroud of Turin in one chapel.  There is one piece of sculpture that caught my attention and continues to frequently occupy my thoughts. 
Pieta in Saint-Sulpice

Pieta in Saint-Sulpice


This piece is located in the Chapel of the Souls in Purgatory.  Purgatory, by the way, no longer exists, as decreed by the Pope. It is no longer a place, so much as a state of being. Wonder what happened to everyone who was there? The official guide book just lists it as "Pieta by Clesinger (1868).  Masterpieces of Saint-Sulpice, another book put out by the church, says, "Over the altar was set a stone Pieta between two angels, Clesinger's work." No sign. No plaque.  The books don't even have a picture, but they do dedicate about four, large, color pages to the church organ. Come on!  I am appalled by the obvious disrespect that is paid to this magnificent sculpture.  It is purposely overlooked for obvious reasons.  Look at the way Mother Mary is embracing both Mary Magdalene and Jesus.  Really take in the facial expressions of the Mary's.  It moves me to the core whenever I look at it.  Notice Mary Magdalene's hand under her beloved's.  It is both beautiful and heart-wrenching at the same time.  It brings up so many layers of thought and emotion in me.  Human mortality. Nature of Love.  Types of Love. Death. Life. Mother-in-laws. Church doctrine. Heresy. If I could find one, I would buy a reproduction of this for my home.  It is that powerful.  And it just one of the many wonders of this church. 

Vezelay!

Susan Marek

The drive to the north of France was lovely.  We passed chateau after chateau as we wove our way down country roads and through small villages toward Vezelay.  Our mission:  another church with mystery!  Vezelay is a small town with a quaint main street that leads uphill to the church.
Vezelay

This town is very much steeped in the Mary Magdalene traditions, with sea shells (one of her symbols) on buildings and embedded in the street.

The church has interesting carvings above the imposing doors and even small rats carved into the foot of one column!


Inside, the inner portal to the main body of the church has an intricate carving of Jesus along with the astrological symbols.  Unexpected and fabulous!  Who would have thought Jesus would share space with a Capricorn?

There is a chapel to Mary Magdalene across from the crypt.  She is holding the alabaster jar against her abdomen.
Mary Magdalene, Vezelay

Imbedded in the pedestal is a piece of her thigh bone.
Mary Magdalene reliquary, Vezelay

In the crypt is a beautiful reliquary containing a larger piece of her thigh bone.  Don't you think the reliquary looks Egyptian?
Mary Magdalene reliquary, Vezelay
The Crypt, Vezelay

There are beautiful statues of saints throughout the church, as well as some painted saints on the columns.  In addition to the Mary relics, one of the most fascinating things was something that wasn't on display.  It is the "host holder" that holds the sacred communion host for adoration.  It caught my eye on a sign in the church.  I think my jaw dropped open when I saw it.
Ankh, Vezelay

The holy Catholic sacrament is displayed in an EGYPTIAN ANKH!  LOVE IT!  In many of the shops in town, there are references to the Church, Egypt, Freemasons, and paganism.  What a unique and mysterious combination!  I love Vezelay!

After  brief visit, we left and made our way west to Chartres...

Mystery of the Black Madonna

Susan Marek

Before this trip, I had little knowledge or understanding of The Black Madonna.  These ladies sit in many churches in France (and other countries) and are misunderstood and discounted by most visitors.  There are many theories on why the Madonnas are black (or were black - many have been white-washed by the Church), but my personal feeling is that these Madonnas represent the divine feminine, an earthy, mothering, goddess aspect of I AM that brings forth creativity and renewal.  They are linked to Mary Magdalene, who also represents those qualities.  They exude love, compassion, understanding and hold secrets to not only the past, but to our present and future experience on our relationship to ourselves, each other, and the divine.  Upon returning home, I started gathering material on the Black Madonnas and am going to do some research on this lovely lady..  She fascinates me because of what she is said to represent, because the Church is SO threatened by her coloring it feels a need to paint her, and because her mystery is a source of information on a higher place. 

Alet-les-Bains

Alet-les-Bains


As if Black Madonnas weren't enough to keep me busy, I was introduced to the world of encoded stained glass windows.  I saw some of the most amazing windows in a little town called Alet-les-Bains.  The windows of this small church have Stars of David build into the supports for the windows and colorful, intricate glass within the frame.  Each tells a story, of course, but many were hard to see because of the height of the windows.  I was instantly obsessed with the symbolism in these windows and will have to add discovering their secrets to my list of things to do.  But I think, perhaps, the Madonnas and the windows have some shared secrets that are waiting to be discovered...

Black Madonna, Alet-les-Bains

Black Madonna, Notre-Dame-de-Marceille
 Oh, and we saw Nostradamus' house today.  It was a good day!

Rennes-le-Chateau

Susan Marek

Rennes-le-Chateau is at the center of all things mystical and magical in the Languedoc region.  Rumors of Egyptian rites, time slips, and portals to other worlds abound here.  What I do know for sure is that it is full of more mysteries than answers, and beauty abounds.  The view was breathtaking from atop the mountain on which it sits.

  The streets were quiet as we approached the infamous church, which holds most of the town's secrets.  Dedicated to Mary Magdalene, this place of worship has a gorgeous statue of Mary Magdalene above the door with an interesting inscription.  At first, it seems as though it proclaims the place as "terribilis," but translated properly in this context, it means 'awesome'.  Awesome it is, indeed! 
Mary Magdalene at Rennes-le-Chateau




As I entered the church, Rex Mundi was waiting to greet me.  One would not expect to find a devil at the entrance to a church. Rex Mundi means 'king of the world,' and to me, represents the ego and our attachment to earthly things that block us from our true path. 
Rex Mundi

But on top of the statue sits four lovely angels, each making a portion of the sign of the cross, assuring you that all is well.  A fascinating statue to be sure!
Angels triumph over Rex Mundi
For me, the energy in the church was a little "swirly" (it's a technical term...). It was noticeable once I was inside the main part of the church.  There was so much to see within the church itself, like gorgeous statues of many saints, an ornate altar with a lovely relief of Mary Magdalene in it, painted by the priest, Berenger Sauniere, who brought this church back to life with a mysterious fortune at the turn of the 20th century.
altar with Mary Magdalene relief
The source of Sauniere's fortune is unknown, but the money started pouring into this small parish after he discovered something in a pillar of the old altar during a remodel.  The papers found in a hole in the top of the pillar were said to contains secrets that were never revealed by Berenger or any of the people he entrusted with them. 
altar pillar - no, it isn't upside down.  Sauniere had 'Mission 1891' carved upside down.  The hole is at the top.
Symbolism is all over the church.  There is layer upon layer of messages and secrets here.  Next to the church are the presbytery, Villa Bethania ( the home Sauniere built but never lived in) and his gardens.  The gardens contain two magnificent towers, the Magdalene Tower, which served as Sauniere's library, and the Conservatory Tower, which was a green house.  The Magdalene Tower is spectacular.  Inside, walnut bookshelves line the walls, and the spiral staircase leads to the top of the tower.  I could feel the energy swirling in the tower before I reached the door.  I had to catch myself a few times inside to keep from falling because the energy was so strong.  I didn't stay long because of it, but proceeded to the conservatory where the energy was a little calmer. 
Magdalene Tower

Conservatory Tower
After visiting the towers, the group headed to another part of the Sauniere's original garden called Jardin du Marie for lunch.  There, we ate under the sprawling branches of trees and were treated to a short talk about local lore by the restaurant owner.  A harp concert followed, and then we did some shopping at the fabulous bookstore located at the foot of the garden.  The shop items reflected the mysteries of Rennes-le-Chateau: Books, Magdalene medals, Templar crosses, Egyptian statues and shiny crystal jewelry. 


Rennes-le-Chateau brought up mixed emotions in me.  The church itself was so multi-layered in terms of energy and emotions.  A LOT has happened there, and for me that day, it was quite jumbled when picking up on energies of the past and present.  There is a definite air of mystery around the church and grounds, much more than you can see.  I came away quite melacholy because I was on energy overload and processing quite a bit.  I would love to go back after reading and learning more about the history and symbolism so I could focus on a specific area of the church or gardens.  You could spend years here and not uncover or decipher the town's secrets.  The next place we visited was quite the opposite of Rennes-le-Chateau...